Benefit Mindset: Co-Creating a Better Future
“The end of all knowledge should be service to others.”
- Cezar Chavez
I think most people can easily recall some examples of individuals and organizations driven to achieve extraordinary results. But what exactly is driving them? And what impact are they having in others and the systems they interact with? Is being good, a good enough motivator? Or do we need a new psychological framework to approach our development in an integrated, service and value-driven way?
We believe it is time to apply our knowledge, strengths, and creativity towards the efforts that support and enhance life and our living systems. It’s time we collectively adopt a benefit mindset.
The philosopher John O’Donohue said, “the way you look at things is the most powerful force shaping your life.” In the most simple terms possible, mindset refers to the way each of us looks at ourselves, others and the world. It’s what makes us inclined to read situations in a certain manner and respond to them within our patterns of behavior.
Mindsets are commonly referred to as "habits of mind formed by previous experience”. They are beliefs, attitudes and assumptions we adopt as truths about who we are and how the world works. By influencing and directing (framing) what we look at and focus on, they shape our lives and worlds in the most fundamental ways.
Our brain’s capacity for processing the information we have access to is quite limited when compared to the number of stimuli it is faced with. For self-protection and optimization reasons, we have a mechanism called a Reticular Activating System. Its function is to sort out and filter information so that what's most relevant comes to the front of our attention. It’s basically an information organizing tool. So how do we determine what is important?
When we’re looking into buying a new car, and upon consideration choose Audi, when most of our life we drove BMW, all of sudden, we see Audi’s everywhere. Is Audi in the midst of an all-time sales peak? Probably not. Rather, our attention is now primed to spot those shiny four rings everywhere we look. This should give you an idea of how important mindsets are in shaping our lives.
Because we look into ourselves and into the world through this frame of what’s relevant and what’s true, our mindsets provide us with fragmented and biased information, and never with complete facts of reality, thus creating blind spots that further confirm our mindsets.
One such bias is the well-known confirmation bias. It explains how we process and take in information that confirms our pre-existing beliefs in a totally different manner than what contradicts them. Therefore, mindsets are self-deceptive.
Why Mindsets Matter
We make our mindsets from our experiences and the lessons we draw from them. Then those lessons shape our experiences. We have more experiences and draw new lessons, that lead to new mindsets.
Our thoughts, words, and actions stem from our mindsets. We can liken a mindset to the ocean, and thoughts words and actions to waves. On an individual level, it’s the insights that stem from questioning the beliefs and assumptions that drive our behavior that shift us into greater possibilities of being and acting in the world. Such shifts can have surprising and meaningful impacts on our lives.
On a collective level, we are facing global challenges that threaten our economy, our organizations and communities, as well as our families...our world, ultimately life as we know it. In the face of the magnitude of these challenges, it is imperative to approach and question the mindset from which they arose.
“It is not until we see our global problems as symptoms of one fundamental, deeper-rooted crisis — the symptoms of our individual and shared mindset — that we can begin to mount a more profound response.”
- Monica Sharma
Sustainable transformation must, therefore, address the collective and individual mindset that caused these challenges. When you change the thinking, you change the situation. It’s in this way that mindsets shape our lives and our world.
Growth, Fixed & Benefit Mindset
Carol Dweck is the world-renowned Stanford psychologist responsible for spreading the mindset idea. Her research uncovered the role that mindsets play in achievement and success. She found that one of the most important beliefs we have is whether our intelligence, skills, abilities, and character can be developed through intentional effort - growth mindset - or if they’re fixed and immutable - fixed mindset.
You can spot a growth mindset by a person’s outlook on failure. People with a growth mindset look at failure and feedback as a way to learn and get better, focusing on the process rather than the outcome, whereas people with a fixed mindset tend to look at setbacks as proof of their lack of ability and hence avoid it at all costs.
As a result of learning from criticism, overcoming setbacks rather than ignoring or avoiding them and, finding inspiration instead of a threat in the success of others, the beliefs within the growth mindset are conducive to progress and betterment. Giving people greater possibilities of fulfilling their potential.
In this framework of fixed and growth mindset, people seek perfection or progress and development for the sake of their own benefits. The benefit mindset advocates for everyday leadership in which the development of our skills is a means to provide value and to be of service to others.
It’s a framework that requires consciousness of the collective, and an intention to seek and decide in favor of that which brings about benefits not solely to ourselves, but to others and our world at large. It requires that we examine why we do what we do and that we believe at our deepest that contributing positively to our society as a whole is the best way to use our potential.
“In a Benefit Mindset, we not only seek to fulfill our potential but choose to do it in a way that contributes to the wellbeing of others and society as a whole. We question ‘why’ we do what we do, and believe in doing good things for good reasons.”
- Ash Buchanan
Mindsets in Action
In action, a fixed mindset looks like someone who rarely steps out of their comfort zone, rigidly responds to different situations and rarely tries out something new. When giving feedback, for example, they’ll keep following the same old script, regardless of efficacy, context or the impact produced. The question that guides their behavior and decisions is: will this attest to my intelligence and competence?
A growth mindset person will actively seek the new and challenging, expanding and broadening their perspectives and experiences as a part of their own development, moved by personal fulfillment and achievement. In the previous example, a person with this type of mindset will enroll in a feedback training that provides insights and practices into the latest science and methods, keeping in mind the direct impact this will have in the organizational performance and results. The question a person with this type of inclination poses often is: will it help me evolve and develop my skills and abilities?
In the benefit mindset, one would try out new things and consider their impact on others and in society, consciously choosing the option that represents the greatest benefit not only to themselves but to the whole. A person with this type of motivation will consider the feedback methods that help individuals, organizations, and societies thrive and solve important questions. Considering the well-being of the individual, the organization and the society, the question that aids their decision-making process is: will what I am about to do contribute to a better world?
Doing Good In Business
“In nature, we never see anything isolated, but everything in connection with something else, which is before it, beside it, under it and over it.”
- Wolfgang von Goethe
Some, if not all, of the current economic and environmental issues we face stem from thinking the purpose of a business is profit. Simon Sinek explains this best, as he says: if an organization is the car, money is the gas. So money is very important in the sense that it drives your company forward, and without it, you’re going nowhere. No matter how noble your organization’s mission is, without fuel, you can’t operate at any level.
What we have to understand is that fuel is not the end goal or purpose of the car. The purpose of the car is to go somewhere, and fuel is what allows it to reach it. Like so, the purpose of an organization is to contribute to a better, more evolved and conscious world. And profit is what keeps the organization alive and moving forward. But the purpose is to deliver sustainable solutions that contribute to a healthy and resilient present and future. We believe that an organization’s ability to thrive is directly related to this mindset.
“Leadership is about being of service to others, not being served by others.”
- Patrick the Edutainer
How do we lead our lives and businesses from this standpoint? How do we create organizations and societies that operate from a win-win mentality? Drew Dudley defines leadership as “the everyday act of improving each other lives.”
In practical terms it means:
- We consider the impact of our decisions in our communities, societies, and world at large.
- We are purposeful and intentional in creating solutions that promote interrelated well-being and regeneration.
- We are committed to self-awareness, and constantly question the why of our behavior.
- We regularly question limiting beliefs, assumptions, and attitudes.
- We recognize, name and manage our own emotions so that we can act with integrity.
- We attend and care for the emotions and feelings of the people we work with, treating them with the same kind of empathy and respect that we seek for ourselves.
- We own our mistakes and we make amends.
- We share authentically our struggles and failures.
- We question and own the stories we’re telling ourselves and their impact in the world.
- We practice courage and kindness, resorting to the question: what is the bravest and kindest thing to do and say?
- We are learners first, not knowers or experts.
- We use challenges to investigate different possibilities and course correct.
- We investigate our own blind spots and seek feedback.
- We are guided by service and curiosity.
- We give credit and acknowledgment where it is due.
- We keep coming back to why we started in the first place: will this contribute to a kinder, braver, and healthier world?
We make the future, first, in our minds. Through our choices and examples, we are all leading our own lives, our families, businesses and communities. We are living the future that we collectively created. Intentionally crafting a benefit mindset is the first step to co-create a future of greater possibilities and respect. And every moment is an opportunity.